This question has been prompted by the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the traditional office-first model was most definitely the most common and much preferred model for most businesses, with the working from home (WFH) option only used in emergencies such as if an employee was ill. However, when the pandemic appeared this mindset completely changed, as during lockdown it was no longer legally possible to go into work. This then led to the emergence of more Zoom calls and a bigger use of Microsoft Teams than ever before. Even now, with lockdown over, this way of working has far from disappeared. What are the pros and cons?
Advantages of working from home
There are a few reasons for businesses to allow employees to work at home.
It can be argued that there could be more productivity, due to there being fewer interruptions, which would normally occur in an office environment. By contrast, working from home allows for a quieter environment that can facilitate more focused work. Employees may even wish to increase their paid contractual hours as they save time that was previously spent commuting to and from the workplace.
There are also likely to be fewer sickness absences as staff are more likely to feel happier and more energised working from home and therefore less chance of their immune system being negatively impacted by burnout. Also, the fact that employees are working in isolation there is less chance of infections spreading as would be the case within an office environment.
Working from home also results in longer business days. This is because due to having employees in different time zones allows companies to extend their business days. Since employees are starting and ending their workdays at different times, this makes it easier for employers to ensure someone is working most hours of the day. This can be quite helpful for things like customer support and other 24/7 services.
Disadvantages of working from home
There are of course however some disadvantages for businesses by letting their employees work from home.
One of the obvious disadvantages for businesses would be that they may have difficulties monitoring performance and managing their employees. This is because once the Zoom call is over, it is completely unknown to the employer what their workers are getting up to. This may lead to less productivity in the long run as the employee may not see a reason to work hard and may procrastinate or may not try so hard.
Another problem is that there are potential information security problems, which are more likely to occur when staff are working from home. There is increased risk with laptops being taken home and the need for staff to access servers remotely. Employers should ensure they put measures in place to protect company data by installing encryption software and remote-wipe apps if mobile devices provided by you go missing.
Finally, one of the other major drawbacks is that working from home can also require the use of very expensive technology to make it a success. This could be from high-quality home office equipment to effective collaboration software, you need to get the work-from-home set-up right to help the business succeed.
Overall, I suspect that he idea of working from home is not going to go away, either due to people becoming ill, living too far away from the workplace or that simply put they prefer working in their own home. This article has shown that the idea of working from home can be very beneficial and can even increase the productivity of the employees in the right circumstances.
However, it must be recognised that this idea does not work for everyone, and some people may just prefer the workplace environment as they are in the proper mindset which they can not be at home. Therefore, it may be good for businesses to do a combination of working from home and in the workplace o try and get the best of both worlds.